Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University has hired an online education veteran with a passion for increasing access to higher education for adult learners via online learning.
Patrick Wilson, Ph.D., is the founding director of Highlands University’s new Online and Extended Learning Office.
“Dr. Wilson comes with a solid background in the administration of online programming at the institutional level as well as the system level,” said Roxanne Gonzales, Highlands University provost and vice president for academic affairs. “He also has a faculty background and has led professional studies programs.”
Gonzales said hiring Wilson marks an important turning point for Highlands University as it moves to more online learning with intent.
“Dr. Wilson’s background will enable Highlands to develop a strategic plan and model that will provide the state of New Mexico with quality programming at an affordable cost,” Gonzales said.
Wilson said adult learners, also called non-traditional students, typically lead very busy lives, working hard to balance their occupational, family and educational needs.
“Online program delivery opens up flexible opportunities that didn’t previously exist for these adult students,” Wilson said.
Gonzales added that with online and extended learning such as Highlands’ statewide centers, the university will provide access and flexibility to the university’s programs across the state.
Most recently, Wilson was the associate vice president at Tennessee Technological University in the Division of Digital and Distance Education from 2016 to 2018.
Previously, Wilson worked in positions with the Tennessee Board of Regents. He was the associate vice chancellor for the regents’ TennesseeCampus (TNeCampus) from 2013 to 2016 and was the executive director of the eCampus from 2010 to 2013.
“I’ve been in online education for almost 20 years and have seen a variety of different approaches,” Wilson said. “I believe this experience will enable me to propose new approaches that fit Highlands’ culture and the needs of New Mexico students.”
He said what’s most exciting to him about the new Highlands position is the opportunity to help the university grow by serving more adult learners.
“According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there is tremendous projected growth in this adult learner demographic. The goal is to expand and strengthen Highlands’ options for non-traditional students via online and extended education,” Wilson said.
Gonzales said having an office with a focus on the growing online and adult learner sectors will enable Highlands to work intentionally to develop undergraduate and graduate programs to attract students.
Wilson also has experience as a college dean. From 2008 to 2010, he was dean of graduate and professional studies at Christian Brothers University. From 2007 to 2008, he was the associate dean of instructional leadership at the Kellett School of Lakeland College.
In addition, Wilson was an associate professor in finance and accounting at Regis University from 2002 to 2007.
Wilson earned his doctorate degree in educational technology from Pepperdine University and his MBA in finance and accounting from Regis University.
“My doctoral dissertation focused on virtual learning in the workplace,” Wilson said. “I collaborated with a large multinational corporation to explore facets of high-performance project teams.”
From 2011 to 2016, Wilson was a Fulbright specialist, serving the U.S. State Department on the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.
“As a Fulbright specialist, I was an online education expert on call for online education programs,” Wilson said.
Wilson is an experienced grant writer, winning a number of Governor’s Online Innovation Grants from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and other entities.